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CAL FIRE announces plan to reduce wildfire risk

Posted at 10:54 PM, Jan 29, 2019

CAL FIRE and the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection announced a new plan Tuesday to minimize wildfire risk.

It comes after the state saw some of the deadliest fires in its history in 2018.

Firefighters plan to double their efforts to minimize the wildfire threat statewide and county-wide.

The state’s plan is focused on forest management and CAL FIRE SLO is doing its part to reduce wildfire risk.

“I think people will be quite pleased, we have been listening and doing homework,” said Dr. Keith Gilless, the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection Chairman, in a press conference Tuesday.

A decade of listening and doing homework resulted in the California Vegetation Treatment Program Environmental Impact Report.

The goal: reducing wildfire risk across the state by doubling forest management efforts.

“Both Governor Brown and Governor Newsom have been working with us to put $1 billion worth of investment to be put into the woods to increase the health, but also reduce the chances of catastrophic fire destroying our forest.”

One billion dollars will be used to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

“10 of the 20 deadliest wildfires in California’s history have occurred since 2003,” said Gilless. They are changes that reflect the evolution of the awareness of the gravity of the problem, the will of the state and desire of the state to do something about it and the evolving science.”

The plan also aims to reduce carbon emissions, increase forest health and protect resources.

CAL FIRE SLO plans to increase its fuel reduction activity locally.

“Whether it’s chipping, pilling, hauling whatever we have to do to get it out,” said Chris Elms, CAL FIRE SLO spokesperson.

This year, firefighters will conduct more than 8,500 defensible space inspections, plan 2,000 to 4,000 acres of prescribed burns and reduce more than 500 acres of hazardous fuel.

CAL FIRE says even though the hills are wet and green right now, fire risk is still there.

“There’s actually more dead vegetation than there is live vegetation on our hillsides,” said Elms. “The grass burns and carries the fire to the heavier vegetation, it’s already dead and dry and then that is where we see the big devastating fires take place.”

Homeowners should be proactive year-round.

“Trim up trees and take care of some of those issues, getting leaves off their roofs and out of their gutters,” said Elms.

CAL FIRE officials say there is no single solution to the problem, but this state plan will help.

A draft of the California Vegetation Treatment Program will be available for public input in May or June.

The plan is expected to be approved by the end of the year but CAL FIRE says reduction efforts will still continue until then.